The University of Connecticut is committed to creating, supporting, and sustaining a diverse, inclusive, equitable, and justice-oriented environment that empowers every individual and group in our community to reach their full potential. We strive to create an institutional environment that fosters full participation and belonging for all – especially those from historically marginalized populations, both nationally and globally.

Creating an environment where all are welcomed, meaningfully included, respected, and supported requires University-wide awareness about systems and structures that exclude people. The Office for Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) is committed to raising awareness. To that end, we offer a few definitions that guide our current operations:

Diversity is the psychological, physical, and social differences that exist among any and all individuals. This includes but is not limited to race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, socioeconomic status, veteran status, education, marital status, language, age, gender, gender expression, gender identity, sexual orientation, mental or physical ability, size, genetic information, learning styles, and political or other affiliations.

An inclusive environment is one that ensures all members of the UConn community study and work in an affirming and welcoming institutional climate.

An equitable environment guarantees fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all students, faculty, and staff.  Stewards of this environment strive to identify and eliminate barriers that prevent the full participation of historically marginalized groups.

Justice” is the systematic and proactive reinforcement of the policies, practices, and norms needed to achieve and sustain diversity, inclusion, and equity.[i] Justice is not simply addressing individual acts of wrongdoing; rather, it is working proactively to change campus climate and culture such that fewer acts of wrongdoing are likely to occur.

 Antiracism is the process of actively identifying and eliminating racism in all forms. Simply being “not racist” is not enough to eliminate racial discrimination; that requires actively challenging policies, systems of belief, and norms that allow racism to thrive. Antiracism refocuses our understanding of racism from malicious individuals to systems and policies that bring about structural racial inequality.[ii]

"Equity-Mindedness" refers to the perspective or mode of thinking that calls attention to patterns of inequity. These practitioners critically reassess their own practices and are race-conscious and aware of the social and historical context of exclusionary practices in American Higher Education."[iii], [iv]

We prefer “historically minoritized” as opposed to “people of color” or “minorities” to include all communities who have been historically marginalized.[v] This preference reflects an understanding of “minority” status as socially constructed in specific societal contexts.[vi] We recognize that minoritization is continued and ongoing, rather than located in the past. Recognizing minoritization as a process helps us recognize the need for continual and ongoing action to end it.

A more robust set of definitions can be found below.



Ability: Power or capacity to do or act physically, mentally, legally, morally, financially, etc.

Able-Bodied: A person who does not currently identify as someone having a disability; also referred to as TAB, temporarily able-bodied.

Ableism: A set of beliefs or practices that devalue and discriminate against people with disabilities and often rests on the assumption that disabled people need to be ‘fixed’ in one form or the other.

Aboriginal: First inhabitants of a geographical area. People indigenous to the area. Typically used in Australian and New Zealand contexts.

Access: Creating the necessary conditions so that individuals and organizations desiring to use our services, facilities, programs, and employment opportunities are able to utilize these resources and opportunities. The latter indicates that the former is not universal and that retrofits are needed on the individual level. There's a difference between accommodation and access. The former indicates that the latter is not universal and that retrofits are needed to provide greater access on an individual level. Accommodations address lapses in access; when access is expanded, the need for accommodations is reduced.

Accommodations: Accommodations are academic adjustments, modifications and/or auxiliary aids and services made to elements of a student’s postsecondary program that help to compensate for the student’s impairment(s) and provide equal access to students with disabilities. For more information see

Acculturation: The process of learning and incorporating the language, values, beliefs, and behaviors that make up a distinct culture. This concept is not to be confused with assimilation, where an individual, family, or group may give up certain aspects of their culture in order to adapt to that of their new host country.

ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act: Signed into law, July 26, 1990.  A comprehensive civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in mainstream American life –employment opportunities, purchasing goods and services, education, state and local government participation. The ADA also protects employees, students, citizens from having to disclose their disability unwillingly. See:

Affirmative Action: Based on the legal concept introduced in the 1960s to factor “race, color, religion, sex or national origin” in employment, education, and business to improve the representation of underrepresented groups. In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the use of affirmative action in college admissions, but there have been several state and national challenges.

African American (n): Of or related to African Americans. The U.S. Census Bureau defines black or African Americans as “people having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa. It includes people who indicated their race or races as ‘Black, African American, or Negro’ or wrote in entries such as ‘African American,’ ‘Afro American,’ ‘Nigerian,’ or ‘Haitian.’ According to Census 2000, African Americans make up approximately 12.3% of the total U.S. population, and 12.9% including persons of mixed race.

Ageism: Discrimination against individuals because of their age.

Agnostic: Describes a person who does not claim faith or disbelief in a deity or deities, who holds the view that any ultimate reality (such as in a deity or deities) is unknown and beyond human comprehension.

Alaska Natives (n.): Peoples Indigenous to the land that is now called "Alaska" in the United States. Includes eleven distinct cultures that can be described geographically: Eyak, Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian peoples live in the Southeast; the Inupiaq and St. Lawrence Island Yupik live in the north and northwest parts of Alaska; Yup’ik and Cup’ik Alaska Natives live in southwest Alaska; the Athabascan peoples live in Alaska’s interior; and south-central Alaska and the Aleutian Islands are the home of the Alutiiq (Sugpiaq) and Unangax peoples. Alaskan Natives are many nations and tribes, with ancient traditions that continue to be practiced today and adapted for the modern world.

Ally: A person of one social identity group who stands up in support of members of another group; typically member of dominant identity advocating and supporting a marginalized group.

Amerasian: Person born of American and Asian descent, in either Korea or Vietnam with an Asian mother and a non-Asian American father. Originally described people fathered by members of the U.S. military during the Korean and Vietnam wars. The term is not derogatory but should be avoided.

American: A term used to refer to residents of the United States. However, this is a limited use of the term since American includes all people in the western hemisphere (North, South, and Central America). American is comprised of more than just the United States. To present a more global focus use U.S. resident.

American Indian: Term used to refer to those indigenous to the United States. Synonymous with Native Americans, though individuals sometimes prefer one over the other. Do not use Indian as a synonym.

Antiracism: The process of actively identifying and eliminating racism in all its forms. This term acknowledges that simply being “not racist” or not participating in racism is not enough to eliminate racial discrimination; rather, antiracism is rooted in actively challenging the policies, practices, systems of belief, and norms that allow racism to thrive. Specifically, antiracism refocuses our understanding of the problem from people who have malicious intent to policies and practices that bring about racial inequality.[vii] 

ASL, American Sign Language: A natural language used by many people in deaf communities throughout the United States and Anglophone Canada; a visual-spatial language that incorporates facial expression, body movement, and hand shapes and motions.

Anglo American: An American or inhabitant of the U.S. whose language and ancestry are English. A dated term that is not generally used correctly. People use it interchangeably with white Americans of European ancestry.

Antisemitism: As formally defined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities." (For more about the working definition of antisemitism, and further resources about antisemitism, please read the IHRA's full guide here.)

Arab: Any native of 22 Arab countries or one who claims ancestry of the Arab world. Not all Middle Easterners or Middle Eastern Americans are Arab. Not all Arabs are Muslim; many are Christian. Further, not all Muslims are Arab, and most live in other places including Asia, Indonesia, Africa, and North America.

Asexual: Asexual people (or aces) experience little or no sexual attraction. While asexual people can desire emotionally intimate relationships, they are not drawn to sex as their primary expression of that intimacy.

Asian American: Of or related to Asian Americans. The U.S. Census Bureau defines “Asian” as “people having origins in any of the original peoples of Asia or the Indian subcontinent. It includes people who indicated their race or races as ‘Asian,’ ‘Indian,’ ‘Chinese,’ ‘Filipino,’ ‘Korean,’ ‘Japanese,’ ‘Vietnamese,’ or ‘Other Asian.’ Asian Americans are approximately 6 percent of the total U.S. population, and 7.2% including persons of mixed race.

Assimilation: The process whereby an individual of a minority group gradually adopts characteristics of the majority culture. This adoption results in the loss of characteristics of one’s native culture, such as language, culinary tastes, interpersonal communication, gender roles, and style of dress. Some individuals of immigrant communities take offense to the notion that all immigrants should “assimilate” to U.S. culture because it implies that they must give up some of who they are to become “Americans.” Instead, many immigrant communities assert the notion of biculturalism, which enables them to acculturate to the U.S. culture while maintaining characteristics of their native culture.

Atheism/Atheist: a person who disbelieves or denies the existence of a deity or deities.


BCE: Before the Common Era

Bias: A conscious or subconscious preference that interferes with impartial judgment.

Bigotry: An unreasonable belief or an irrational attachment to negative stereotypes and prejudices about other groups of people.

Bilingual: Fluency between any two languages.

Biracial: Of or related to more than one race. Biracial individuals may choose to identify with only one race, especially if they find that they are readily accepted by one group than another.

Bisexuality: A sexual orientation in which a person has the potential to feel physically and emotionally attracted to more than one gender.

Black: Of or related to persons having ethnic origins in the African continent; persons belonging to the African Diaspora. “Black” is often used interchangeably with “African American” in the United States.

Brown: A term most often used to refer to people of Latino/Hispanic descent, or of the Latin American Diaspora (Mexico, Central, and South America, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, as well as Latinos/Hispanics in the United States and Canada). Some individuals may use the word to refer to all people of color.

Buddhism: A religion of eastern and central Asia growing out of the teaching of Gautama Buddha that suffering is inherent in life and that one can be liberated from it through following the Noble Eightfold Path to enlightenment.


Catholic: Usually refers to the Roman Catholic church, but can also refer to other Catholic Christian denominations such as the Eastern Orthodox churches.

Caucasian: Of or related to the Caucasus region, a geographic area between the Black and Caspian seas; a former racial classification that included indigenous persons of Europe, northern Africa, western Asia, and India, characterized by light to brown skin and straight to wavy or curly hair. Loosely called the “white race” although it embraced many peoples of dark skin color. It is now generally discredited as an anthropological and scientific term.

CE: Common Era

Chicano/Chicana: A term adopted by some Mexican Americans to demonstrate pride in their heritage, born out of the national Chicano Movement that was politically aligned with the Civil Rights Movement to end racial oppression and social inequalities of Mexican Americans. Chicano pertains to the particular experience of Mexican‐descended individuals living in the United States. Not all Mexican Americans identify as Chicano.

Chicano Movement: Mexican American individuals and organizations across the country united for the common purpose of increasing educational opportunities, workers’ rights for farm laborers, land allocation, and resources to Mexican American communities.

Chinese: A person from China, or the written language of China and Taiwan. The spoken language is Mandarin. It is not a synonym for a Chinese American.

Christianity: Began as a breakaway sect of Judaism about 2000 years ago. The two religions share the same history up to the time of Jesus Christ. Christians believe in original sin and that Jesus died in the place of humanity to save humans from that sin. They believe in heaven and that those who repent their sins before God will join him in heaven.

Cisgender: A person whose gender identity aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth. For example, a person assigned female at birth that identifies as a woman.

Civil Rights: Political, social and economic legal rights guaranteed by the government. The rights of personal liberty guaranteed to U.S. citizens by the 13th and 14th amendments to the Constitution and by acts of congress. The Civil Rights Movement refers to the struggles of African Americans.

Civil Rights Movement (n.): The Civil Rights Movement is known as the events that took place between 1955 and 1965 when racially minoritized groups across the United States, primarily in the South, rose up against all forms of institutional racism that perpetuated political, economic, and educational disparities within their communities. It served as the catalyst for the restructuring of institutionalized policies and practices that had legally enforced racial segregation, subjugation, and discrimination.

Classism: Biased attitudes and beliefs that result in and help to justify unfair treatment of individuals or groups because of their socioeconomic grouping. “Classism” can also be expressed as public policies and institutional practices that prevent people from breaking out of poverty rather than ensuring equal economic, social, and educational opportunities.

Closeted, in the Closet: A term used to describe LGBTQIA+ people who do not disclose, or have not yet disclosed, their sexual orientation and/or gender identity to their friends, family, co-workers, or society. There can be many reasons people do not disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity such as lack of physical safety or backlash from family. This term is also sometimes used in the disability community.

Code-Switching: When a person switches between languages or dialects (codes) while speaking. Switching may occur for several reasons. The speaker may be unable to express themselves adequately in one language/dialect, the speaker may switch unconsciously when upset, tired, or excited, or the speaker may switch in order to express solidarity with a particular group.

Cognitive Disability: A disability that affects learning and similar brain functions. Do not use mental retardation and use specific disabilities when possible.

Coming Out: Abbreviated from “coming out of the closet,” meaning to reveal one’s undisclosed sexual orientation or gender identity. Refers to the overall developmental process that LGBTQIA2S+ people experience as they come to terms with their sexuality and/or gender identity. This term is also sometimes used in the disability community.

Congenital Disability: A disability since birth or born with a disability. Do not use birth defect.

Cross‐Cultural: Relating to more than one culture. Often refers to practices that deal with more than one culture and incorporate the belief‐and value‐systems of the cultures involved.

Culture: A way of life of a group of people–the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication and imitation from one generation to the next.

Cultural Competence: Refers to an ability to interact effectively and respectfully with people of different cultures. Cultural competence comprises four components:

  1. Awareness of one’s own cultural worldview
  2. Attitude towards cultural differences
  3. Knowledge of different cultural practices and worldviews, and
  4. Cross-cultural skills.

Developing cultural competence results in an ability to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures. Cultural competence is a developmental process that evolves over an extended period.


Deportation: Forced removal of an individual who is not a citizen of a specific country when that individual has been found to violate immigration law.

Disability: A physical, mental or cognitive impairment or condition that requires special accommodations to ensure programmatic and physical access.

Disadvantaged: A historically oppressed group having less than sufficient resources to meet basic needs or a lack of access to the full benefits of economic, social, and political opportunities.

Discrimination: Unfavorable or unfair treatment towards an individual or group based on their race, gender identity, sex, color, religion, national origin, age, physical/mental abilities, or sexual orientation. A prejudice-based action taken by a dominant group member against a subordinate group member. These actions are used to limit another group’s opportunities, confidence, access, and ability to perform in society.

Diversity: The psychological, physical, and social differences that exist among any and all individuals. This includes but is not limited to race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, socioeconomic status, veteran status, education, marital status, language, age, gender, gender expression, gender identity, sexual orientation, mental or physical ability, size, genetic information, mental or physical ability, learning styles, and political or other affiliations. A diverse group, community, or organization is one in which a variety of social and cultural characteristics exist. UConn embraces diversity as central to its academic mission with the understanding that an inclusive and equitable environment promotes and nurtures perspectives that are enabled through differences in culture, experience, and values. The University emphasizes diversity in the recruitment, retention, and advancement of students, faculty, and staff.


Ebonics: A slang dialect or language used in some Black American communities. Literally means “black sound.” The term is a blend of ebony and phonics.

Emigrant: A person who voluntarily and or legally migrates from one country to another. Emigrant and emigration refer to the country from which the migration is made. An Irish person who migrates to the U.S. is an emigrant of Ireland and an immigrant to the U.S.

ESL: English as a Second Language. A term used to describe language learning programs in the U.S. for individuals for whom English is not their first or native language.

Ethnicity: A social construct that divides people into smaller social groups based on characteristics such as values, behavioral patterns, language, political and economic interests, history, and ancestral geographical base.

Equality: Evenly distributed access to resources and opportunity necessary for a safe and healthy life; uniform distribution of access that may or may not result inequitable outcomes.

Equity: The guarantee of fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all students, faculty, and staff, while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups. An equitable environment guarantees fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all students, faculty, and staff. At the same time, stewards of this environment strive to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of historically marginalized groups. Our principle of equity acknowledges that patterns of discrimination create unbalanced conditions when embedded in the policies and practices of organizations, institutions, and/or societies. These unbalanced conditions limit the full participation of historically marginalized groups; UConn must take proactive efforts to assist equitable provision of effective opportunities to all groups.

Equity-Mindedness: The perspective or mode of thinking exhibited by practitioners who call attention to patterns of inequity in student outcomes. These practitioners are willing to take personal and institutional responsibility for the success of their students, and to critically reassess their own practices. This mode of thinking also requires that practitioners are race-conscious and aware of the social and historical context of exclusionary practices in American Higher Education."[viii], [ix] 

Eurocentrism: The practice of using Europe and European culture as a frame of reference or standard criteria from which to view the world. Eurocentrism favors European cultural norms and excludes the realities and experiences of other cultural groups. Systemic oppression based on preference for the European culture over others.

European American: A citizen of the U.S. with European ancestry.


Feminism: Theory and practice that advocates for educational and occupational equity between men and women and undermines traditional cultural practices that support the subjugation of women by men and the devaluation of women’s contributions to society.

First-Generation College Student (First-Gen): someone whose parents did not attend a four year institution.[x]

FTM: Abbreviation for female-to-male transgender person. This term is generally falling out of practice due to the term’s use of the sex binary and/or its combination of concepts of sex/gender.[xi]


Gay: A term used to describe people who are emotionally, romantically, and/or physically attracted to people of the same gender (e.g., gay man, gay people). Attraction and self-identification determines sexual orientation, not the gender or sexual orientation of one’s partner. The term should not be used as an umbrella term for LGBTQ+ people, e.g. “the gay community,” because it excludes other sexual orientations and genders. Avoid using gay in a disparaging manner, e.g. “that’s so gay,” as a synonym for bad.[xii]

Gay Rights Movement: The Gay Rights Movement is generally understood to have begun at the start of the 1969 Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village of New York City. The catalyst for the riots was a police raid of the Stonewall Inn. The patrons decided to fight back and were quickly joined by others who supported “Gay Power.” Many trans and gender diverse individuals were essential to these riots. Word and wake of the riot rippled through the LGBTQIA+ community and some individuals came together to form the Gay Liberation Front (GLF), which was politically aligned with gay rights and the anti‐imperialist struggle overseas.

Gender: Socially constructed ideas that tell us what certain genders are “supposed” to be like, based on a group of emotional, behavioral, and cultural characteristics (like how we express our feelings or how we dress). This term is often conflated with “sex” but is separate.

Gender Binary: The idea that there are only two genders, man and woman, and that a person must be strictly gendered as either/or.[xiii][xiv]

Gender-Neutral Terms: Terms, such as pronouns, that do not indicate the gender of the person. In general use gender-neutral terms (e.g. “police officer,” not “policeman”) when possible.

Gender Expression: The way in which we present ourselves, which can include physical appearance, clothing, hairstyles, and behavior. Gender identity and gender expression can be related, but are separate aspects.

Gender Identity: Our internal understanding and experience of our own gender, or lack thereof. Each person’s experience with their gender identity is unique and personal.[xv]

Gender Norms: Refers to the different roles, standards, and expectations that are assigned to individuals based on society’s construction of gender, and assumptions around an individual’s gender.

Genocide: The systematic and planned extermination of an entire national, racial, political or ethnic group.

Gentrification: The process whereby a given urban area or neighborhood undergoes a socioeconomic transition from a previously low‐income, working-class neighborhood to a middle‐class or affluent neighborhood. This process effectively forces low-income/working-class individuals out of these neighborhoods.

Ghetto: A part of a city where groups live based on class, race, ethnicity, or religion, and can be derogatory when used by someone outside of the community. Often offensively used to refer to predominately Black neighborhoods. Do not use ghetto when describing a particular area; use the name of the neighborhood.

Glass Ceiling: Term used to describe the “unseen” barrier that prevents women, femmes, and people of color from being hired or promoted beyond a certain level of responsibility, prestige, or seniority in the workplace.


Harassment:  Unwelcome, intimidating, or hostile behavior.

Hate Crime: An act by any person or group against the person or property of another which constitutes an expression of hostility because of race, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, gender, or ethnicity.

HBCU: Acronym for Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Established to provide higher education to Black Americans during a time in U.S. history when access was limited.

Health Disparity: Healthy People 2020 defines a health disparity as “a particular type of health difference that is closely linked with social, economic, and/or environmental disadvantage. Health disparities adversely affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater obstacles to health based on their racial or ethnic group; religion; socioeconomic status; gender; age; mental health; cognitive, sensory, or physical disability; sexual orientation or gender identity; geographic location; or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion.

Health Equity: Healthy People 2020 defines health equity as the “attainment of the highest level of health for all people. Achieving health equity requires valuing everyone equally with focused and ongoing societal efforts to address avoidable inequalities, historical and contemporary injustices, and the elimination of health and health care disparities.

Heteronormativity: The assumption, in individuals or in institutions, that everyone is heterosexual, and that heterosexuality is superior to all other sexualities.[xvi]

Hinduism: The dominant religion in India emphasizing dharma, basic principles of cosmic or individual existence within nature, with its resulting ritual, social observances, mystic contemplations, and ascetic practices.

Historically Minoritized: All communities who have been historically marginalized.[xvii] This preference reflects an understanding of “minority” status as socially constructed in specific societal contexts.[xviii] We recognize that minoritization is continued and ongoing, rather than located in the past. Recognizing minoritization as a process helps us recognize the need for continual and ongoing action to end it. ODI prefers this term to “people of color” or “minorities.”

Hispanic: Refers to multiracial, culturally mixed group of people who speak Spanish. Is not synonymous with Latino/Latina/Latin@/Latinx.

Homophobia: refers to an irrational fear of those who are, or who are perceived to be, not heterosexual. Any attitude, action, or practice – backed by institutional power – that subordinates people because of their sexual orientation. This fear is indicative of discriminatory thoughts, so heterosexism might be a better word to use.[xix]

Homosexual: Person attracted to people of the same gender. This word is falling out of practice in favor of words like gay or queer.[xx]

Human Rights: A set of inalienable rights, as declared by the thirty articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, that all human beings possess and are protected by law.


Immigrant: A person who voluntarily and/or legally re‐locates to a country different from that in which they were born. Ex: An Irish person who migrates to the United States is an emigrant of Ireland and an immigrant to the U.S.

Inclusion: The act of creating involvement, environments, and empowerment in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate. An inclusive environment ensures all members of the UConn community can study and work in an affirming and welcoming institutional climate. UConn recognizes its responsibility to provide equal access to opportunities and resources that embrace differences and offers respect in words and actions for all people.

Indian/East Indian: Accurately defined as one who originates from the Indian continent or East Indies. Use Indian American if referring to someone born in the U.S. of Eastern Indian descent. The term has inaccurately been applied to Native people who inhabited North America before it became the United States; the preferred term for that group is Native American.

Indigenous: Descendants of native people from any region.

Intercultural Competence: The ability to develop targeted knowledge, skills and attitudes that lead to visible behavior and communication that are both effective and appropriate in intercultural interactions.

Integration: The bringing of different racial or ethnic groups into a free and equal association.

Intersectionality: Coined by legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989, this concept describes the ways in which multiple identities intersect and cannot be disentangled. It also posits that oppressive institutions, such as sexism and racism, work in tandem; as such, these forces should be analyzed together.

Intersex: Intersex is an umbrella term for differences in sex traits or reproductive anatomy. Intersex people are born with these differences or develop them in childhood. There are many possible differences in genitalia, hormones, internal anatomy, or chromosomes, compared to the usual two ways that human bodies develop. Do not use the term hermaphrodite.

Islam: Religion founded by the prophet Muhammed who is believed to be the last in a long line of holy prophets, preceded by Adam, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. Being devoted to the Koran, followers worship Allah. They respect the earlier prophets but regard the concept of the divinity of Jesus as blasphemous. There are two main divisions: the Sunnis and the Shiite. They are divided over the succession after the prophet. The Shi’a believe the prophet explicitly appointed Imam Ali as his successor. The Sunnis do not believe that Ali was appointed; rather, they adhere to the orthodox tradition and acknowledge the first four caliphs are rightful successors. Islam is the religion, while Muslim refers to an adherent of Islam.


Jews/Judaism/Jew: an ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. Judaism is considered by religious Jews to be the expression of a covenantal relationship with God. It encompasses a wide body of texts, practices, theological positions, and forms of organization. Its foundational scripture, the Torah, is part of the larger corpus of texts known as the Tanakh or Hebrew Bible, along with supplemental oral and textual traditions. The term Jew can be both religious and ethnic. Jews can be of any race or nationality.

Jihad: Arabic word for struggle or striving. It can refer to internal as well as external efforts to be a good Muslim or believer, as well as working to inform people about the faith of Islam. Jihad does not refer to violence and is not a declaration of war against other religions.

Justice: The systematic and proactive reinforcement of the policies, practices, and norms needed to achieve and sustain diversity, inclusion, and equity.[xxi] Justice is not simply addressing individual acts of wrongdoing; rather, it is working proactively to change campus climate and culture such that fewer acts of wrongdoing are likely to occur. As such, justice is both an outcome and a process that requires continual proactive effort. UConn conceives of justice as the responsibility to proactively create the systems, supports, and norms needed to ensure all individuals within our system are able to reach their full potential and thrive. Diversity, inclusion, and equity are incomplete without a focus on justice.


KKK: The Ku Klux Klan was an organization originally founded in Pulaski, Tennessee in 1866 that functioned as a “secret society organized in the South after the Civil War to reassert white supremacy by means of terrorism.”


Latin America: Includes all countries in North and South America that are primarily Spanish and Portuguese speaking.

Latino/Latina/Latin@/Latinx: Person of Latin American descent, regardless of their ability to speak Spanish. Latin@ (“lah-tee-nez”) and Latinx intends to be inclusive of gender fluid, gender queer, non-binary and other individuals who don’t identify with the gender binary.

LGBTQIA2S+: A common abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, and two-spirit communities. When combined, this term is often meant to refer to a full community of queer and trans spectrum identities, not just those that are listed. Some people add a “+” to the end of the term to indicate this.[xxii]

Lesbian:  A woman who is attracted to women. Term derives from Greek isle of Lesbos where Sappho wrote poetry about love between women.[xxiii]

Linguistic Profiling: The practice of making assumptions or value judgments about an individual based on the way they speak and/or the language they use, and then discriminating against that individual because of these factors.


Mandarin: Official language of China and Taiwan, not a dialect. Refers to spoken language only. The written language is Chinese.

Marginalization: Treatment of a person, group or concept as insignificant or pervasive and places them outside of the mainstream society.

Microaggressions: Intentional or unintentional verbal, nonverbal or environmental slights/insults that communicate hostile, derogatory or negative messages to people based upon their marginalized group.

Migrant: A person who migrates. Frequently refers to farm laborers who move often to different locations to harvest seasonal crops. Not a synonym for immigrant or emigrant.

Minority: Segment of the population not in the majority based on certain characteristics and is often subject to differential treatment. When discussing systemic oppression of specific social groups or identities it is recommended to use minoritized or marginalized.

Minoritized/Minoritization: This term recognizes that systemic inequalities, oppression, and marginalization place individuals into “minority” status rather than their own characteristics.  The use of this term acknowledges the understanding that minority is socially constructed (Sotto-Santiago, p. 73).[xxiv]

Miscegenation: The mixing of races

Misogyny: Hatred of women, often manifested in discrimination against women, denigration, or violence against and sexual objectification of women.

MTF: Abbreviation for male-to-female transgender person. This term is generally falling out of practice due to the term’s use of the gender binary and/or its combination of concepts of sex/gender.[xxv]

Multiculturalism: The practice of acknowledging and respecting the various cultures, religions, languages, social equity, races, ethnicities, attitudes, and opinions within an environment. The theory and practice promotes peaceful coexistence of all identities and people.

Multiracial: A term describing a person of interracial parentage.

Muslim: People who follow or practice Islam, for more information see definition of “Islam.”


National Origin: A group identity based on the nation from which a person originates, regardless of the nation in which they reside.

Native American: Descendants of native inhabitants of the United States. Often used interchangeably with Indigenous. First people can also be acceptable. The best practice is to refer to the specific tribal affiliation or nation. When in doubt, ask.

Nazi/Nazism: “National Socialist German Workers Party” brought to power in 1933 under Adolf Hitler. Nazism is the ideology and practice of the Nazis, who have a policy of racist national expression and state control of the economy. A Neo-Nazi is a supporter of the new outgrowth of the original Nazi movement.

Non-binary: Not identifying as either of the binary genders. Can sometimes be spelled without the hyphen: nonbinary.[xxvi]

Neo-Colonization: Contemporary policies used by western “first world” nations and organizations to exert regulation, power, and control disguised as humanitarian help or aid over poorer “third world” nations. These policies are distinct from but related to the earlier periods of colonization of Africa, Asia, and the Americas by European nations.

Neurodiverse/Neurodivergent: Neurodiversity is a scientific concept arising from brain imaging. A number of brain studies have shown that people with learning or thinking differences are “wired” differently than their peers. The term neurodiversity has since come to include not just autism, but other neurological conditions as well.


Oppression: Systematic mistreatment of particular individuals. Oppression is not just an isolated incident. Rather, it is a complex system of sustained and pervasive beliefs, laws or policies, behaviors, and feelings. Oppression can be broken up into four levels: ideological, institutional, interpersonal, and internalized.

  1.  Ideological oppression refers to the societal beliefs of one group being superior to another. It is manifested in the subsequent three levels of oppression.
  2. Institutional oppression is the laws and policies that reflect and enforce prejudiced ideology. For example, school policies that prohibit trans* individuals from putting their preferred pronouns or names on their transcripts.
  3.  Interpersonal oppression is what we normally think of when we think of oppression. It refers to individual acts of racism, sexism, homo/transphobia, classism, or ableism, such as calling a person who uses a wheelchair “crippled.”
  4. Finally, internalized oppression is what occurs when oppressed people internalize the ideology of inferiority, see it reflected in institutional practice, and experience it in interpersonal interactions. They begin to believe that it is true and engage in practices that reinforce it, such as horizontal hostility. It manifests itself in the belief that one is to blame for one’s own oppression, rather than ideological, institutional, and interpersonal discrimination.

Orishas: The various gods and goddesses of the Caribbean and Latin American religion of Santeria, a spiritual practice originating from blended religious aspects of African cultures as well as the Roman Catholic Church.

Out: For LGBTQIA+ people, it is the state of having one’s sexual orientation or gender identity known.

Outing: Inadvertently or intentionally sharing information about another person’s sexual orientation or gender identity without their consent. This act deprives the person of choosing when, how, and whom they want to tell. There are degrees of being out; a person may be out to some people or groups and not others, or they may only share varying degrees of information about their orientation. Outing someone can have profoundly negative consequences for that person’s safety, life, work-life, and future career opportunities. This term is also sometimes used in the disability community.


Pacific Islander: Refers to persons whose origins are of the following nations: Fiji, Guam, Hawaii, Polynesian, Samoa, Tahiti, or any of the Pacific Islands.

Pacific Rim: Imaginary line that frames the Pacific Ocean. Primarily bordering the U.S., Canada, China, Japan, and Australia.

Pagan: 1) An adherent of a religion other than Judaism, Christianity, or Islam which are monotheistic. Polytheism is the worship of or belief in multiple deities, which are usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own religions and rituals. 2) A member of a religious, spiritual, or cultural community based on the worship of nature or the earth.

Paraplegia: Paralysis of the lower half of the body involving both legs.

Partner: A term inclusive of gender and sexual orientation used to identify someone in a romantic relationship.

Patriarchy: Structural and ideological system that perpetuates the privileging of particular kinds of masculinity and cisgender men. A system in which cisgender men have institutional control and dominance.

People of Color: Describes all racial and ethnic groups other than white.

Political Correctness: Relating to or supporting broad social, political, and educational change, to redress historical injustices in matters such as race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and ability. In practice, people attempting political correctness try to avoid offending others by taking measures or using language they perceive as safe. At the root of political correctness are compassion, respect, and empathy.

Power: Ability to control, coerce, or influence people based on privileged identities. Power may be positional and provide access to social, political, and economic resources.

Power-over: Used in a discriminatory and oppressive way. Having power over others and therefore domination and control over others (e.g. through coercion and violence)

Power-with: Shared with all people in struggles for liberation and equality. Using or exercising one’s power to work with others equitably, for example, in a social movement.

Prejudice: A preconceived judgment or opinion regarding a person or a group based on insufficient or incorrect evidence. Can be positive or negative.

Pride Flag: Flags adopted by the LGBTQIA2S+ community to symbolize gay or LGBTQIA2S+ pride or safe spaces for LGBT people.

Privilege: Any unearned benefit, right or advantage one receives in society by nature of their identities.

Pronouns: Historically, gender pronouns have existed in a binary in the English language: he/him/his or she/her/hers. Today, pronouns/gender pronouns also include, but are not limited to, ey, ae, per, ze, thon, they, zhe, and fae. A person can choose any pronoun that makes them feel comfortable for any reason.[xxvii]

Protestantism: Religious denominations that broke from the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century. Includes Anglican, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Quaker. Not appropriate use for Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Scientist, Mormons, or Eastern Orthodox churches.

Psychiatric Disability: Acute or chronic mental illness. Psychotic, schizophrenic, neurotic, and similar words should only be used in the appropriate clinical context. Crazy, lunatic, demented, insane, and psycho are offensive. Use psychiatric disability, psychiatric illness, emotional disorder, or mental disorder.


Quadriplegia: A physical impairment where a person cannot use their arms or legs.

Queer: A reclaimed word that was formerly used solely as a slur but that has been semantically overturned by members of the maligned group, who use it as a term of defiant pride. It is an umbrella term which embraces a matrix of sexual preferences, orientations, and habits of the non-exclusively-heterosexual-and-monogamous majority. Queer can include lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, trans people, intersex persons, asexual people, and other communities.

Quota: A number or percentage particularly of people designated as a targeted minimum for a particular group or organization. A term often used in reference to admission to colleges and universities and organizational hiring practices.

Quran: Central religious text of Islam. Alternately spelled Koran.


Race: A social construct that artificially divides people into distinct groups based on characteristics such as physical appearance, ancestral heritage, cultural affiliation, cultural history, ethnic classification, and the political needs of a society at a given period of time.

Racism: Systematic discrimination based on race. Racial prejudice + power = racism.

Religion: An organized belief system based on certain doctrines of faith or a belief in a supreme being or God. Organized religion suggests the manner in which people should live and the beliefs that they should accept or reject.

Reservation: A section of land set aside by the federal government for Native Americans.

Respect: A feeling or understanding that someone or something is important, valued, and should be treated in a dignified way.

Reverse Discrimination: A term used by opponents to affirmative action who believe that these policies are causing members of traditionally dominant groups to be discriminated against.


Same Gender Loving (SGL): A term sometimes used by members of the Black community to express an alternative sexual orientation without relying on terms and symbols of European descent. The term emerged in the early 1990’s with the intention of offering Black women who love women and Black men who love men a voice, a way of identifying and being that resonated with the uniqueness of Black culture and life.[xxviii]

Scapegoating: Blaming an individual or group for something when, in reality, there is no one person or group responsible. Scapegoating has often been used to blame racial groups as responsible as a means to discredit that group.

Semitic: Related to the language/culture of Semites. Semitic languages are characterized as Afro‐Asiatic languages, including Arabic, Hebrew, Amharic, and Aramaic.

Sex: A medical term designating a certain combination of primary and secondary sex characteristics, hormones, and chromosomes. Some categories include female, male, and intersex. These are considered to be socially constructed categories. Do not use gender as a synonym.[xxix]

Sexism: Systemic oppression based on sex and gender identity. Gendered prejudice + power = sexism, therefore cisgender men cannot experience sexism.

Sexual Orientation: The direction of one’s sexual attraction toward the same gender or different genders. It is on a continuum and not necessarily a set of absolute categories.

Shinto/Shintoist: The ancient native religion of Japan. Stresses belief in spiritual beings and reverence for ancestors. Adherents are expected to celebrate their gods, or kami. Support the societies in which kami are patron, remain pure and sincere, and enjoy life.

Sikhism/Sihk: Religion founded by Shri Guru Nanek Dev Ji in the Punjab area, now in Pakistan. Sikhs believe in a single formless God with many names who can be known through meditation. They pray several times a day and are not allowed to worship icons or idols. They believe in samsara, karma, and reincarnation as Hindus do, but reject the caste system. They believe that everyone has equal status in the eyes of God. Although elements of Islam have been incorporated, it is not Islamic.

Social Construct: An idea that appears to be natural and obvious to people who accept it but may or may not represent reality.

Social Justice: To take action as an advocate for a just society where all people have a right to fair and equitable treatment, support, and resources.

Spanglish: Spanish characterized by words borrowed from the English language. Not a language or a dialect.

Spanish: Language is primarily spoken in Spain and Latin America, or a person from Spain. Not a synonym for Latino or Hispanic.

Stereotyping:  A positive or negative set of beliefs held by an individual about the characteristics of a certain group.

Straight: Men who are attracted to women; women who are attracted to men. Synonymous with heterosexuality.[xxx]

Systemic Discrimination: Patterns of discrimination embedded in the policies and practices of an organization, institution, and/or society.


Terrorism: The use or threat to use unlawful acts of force or violence to intimidate or coerce another person, group, or government, often for ideological, religious, or political reasons. The U.S. Department of State defines terrorism as “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by sub‐national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.”

Third World: Used during the Cold War to describe countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America still developing economically. Developing country is preferred.

Tokenism: The policy or practice of making only a perfunctory effort or symbolic gesture toward the accomplishment of a goal, such as racial integration; i.e. the practice of hiring or appointing a token number of people from underrepresented groups in order to deflect criticism or comply with affirmative action rules.

Tolerance: Acceptance and open-mindedness to different practices, attitudes, and cultures; does not necessarily mean agreement with differences.

Transgender:  An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. People under the transgender umbrella may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms – including transgender. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation. Therefore, transgender people may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc.[xxxi]

Transphobia: This word refers to an irrational fear of those who are gender variant and/or the inability to deal with gender ambiguity. This fear is indicative of discriminatory thoughts, so cissexism might be a better word to use.[xxxii]

Two Spirit: A term in English chosen by First Nations/Native American/Indigenous peoples in 1990 to roughly translate words in Indigenous languages that describe culturally specific genders or gender identities that existed pre-colonial contact. These culturally specific genders and gender roles fall outside Euro American understandings of gender and have distinct gender and social roles in their tribes. This term should not be appropriated to describe people who are not First Nations/Native American/Indigenous members.


Underrepresented: Group identities whose numbers are demographically fewer than the larger majority groups. A historically oppressed group characterized by lack of access to the full benefits of the economic, social, and political opportunity, and often used as a replacement term for minority.

Undocumented Immigrant: refers to anyone residing in any given country without legal documentation.


WASP: White Anglo Saxon Protestant, a term used in the United States to refer to the demographic of people who are of this ancestry.

White: People of European origin. The term is not synonymous with Caucasian. In the U.S., European American can also be used. Some prefer terms that identify their country of origin, such as Italian American, Greek American, etc.

Workplace Diversity: A common term for increased racial/ethnic/gender representation in a company’s entire workforce. Best practices show increased workforce diversity is usually accomplished through demographic goals set by an executive diversity council, strong diversity recruitment efforts, and use of employee resource groups and talent-development initiatives aimed at underrepresented groups.


Additional Resources


[v] Benitez, M., Jr. (2010). “Resituating culture centers within a social justice framework: Is there room for examining Whiteness?” In L.D. Patton (Ed.), Culture centers in higher education: Perspectives on identity, theory, and practice (pp. 119-134). Stylus.
[vi] at_US_Four-Year_Institutions/links/5720ced708aed056fa29277c/Racially-Minoritized-Students-at-US-Four-Year-Institutions.pdf
[xvii] Benitez, M., Jr. (2010). “Resituating culture centers within a social justice framework: Is there room for examining Whiteness?” In L.D. Patton (Ed.), Culture centers in higher education: Perspectives on identity, theory, and practice (pp. 119-134). Stylus.
[xviii] at_US_Four-Year_Institutions/links/5720ced708aed056fa29277c/Racially-Minoritized-Students-at-US-Four-Year-Institutions.pdf
[xxiv] Santiago, S. S. (2019). Time to Reconsider the Word Minority in Academic Medicine. Journal of Best Practices in Health Professions Diversity: Education, Research & Policy, 12(1), 72–78.